Friday, 29 May 2015

A Look at the Dove "Real Beauty" Marketing Campaign, Jessica Martin

Marketing is one of the most important ploys when it comes to the success of a company. It is about making an individual believe in the lifestyle they are buying into. In today’s market, people are confronted with so many products that it’s important your product stands out. Having a piece of someone’s mind is better than having a piece of real estate, after all. It’s vital that the company distinguishes their own unique brand and puts up a fight when it comes to beating off other competitors. Brands are a key element in building a relationship with consumers, as they represent consumer’s feelings and perceptions about a product and its performance.

  Baines and Page (2008) believe marketing is essential when it comes to developing and delivering products to the consumer, and most importantly to the company, increasing profit margins. Baines and Page (2008) go on to explain the difference between customers and consumers. A customer is someone who buys something from a shop, website or business whereas a consumer is someone who uses the product. An example of this can be a mother buying her child a toy. While the mother may be the customer, the consumer is the child.  There are three types of orientation which include customer orientation, competitor orientation and interfunctional orientation. Customer orientation is when the company is concerned with meeting customer needs, meaning customer satisfaction is measured daily. Competitor orientation is where an organisation develops an understanding of competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Finally, there is interfuctional coordination. This requires all of the functions within the organisation to work together and achieve long term profit. Marketing is also characterised by consumer orientation, segmentation and targeting, advertising and sales promotions. The company would do as much research with customers and potential customers to ensure their product does well- they would look at things such as packaging, pricing, advertising that is believable, relevant and motivating. (Donovan & Henley, 2010).

 According to The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the simple definition of marketing is;

“The management process of anticipating, identifying and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. (CIM, 2001).

 Public relations are also important when it comes to running a successful marketing campaign. Public opinion is extremely important when it comes to business, as after all they are the people that will be consuming your product. It’s also important to get the media and journalists on your side when promoting a product. The difference between advertising and public relations is technique. Tench and Yeomans (2009) explain that the “advertiser controls the message (by paying for it) while the PR practitioner seeks to persuade other people (‘third parties’) to convey the message for them in a supportive way (‘endorsement’). Typically, these other people will be journalists who have the power to confer editorial endorsement by reporting favourably on a product, a service, a person or an organisation.”

   With that in mind, I have decided to analyse The Dove campaign for Real Beauty, their marketing techniques and looking at what made it so successful. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a successful media campaign that is recognised by many worldwide. Their main goal was to create a brand that celebrated every single woman, no matter what they looked like. On their website, they state that The Dove brand is “rooted in listening to women” (Dove, 2015). In the study, statistically only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.  It all started in 2004 with a global study conducted by Dove. The study was called “The Real truth about Beauty: A Global Report, Dove”. In the adverts, “real” women appeared whose appearances were outside the stereotypical norms of beauty and the beauty industry. Dove got the public involved and asked the viewers to judge the women’s looks by taking part in a voting process, Dove wanted to provoke discussion and encourage debate, and that’s what happened. Alongside TV ads and posters of “real women”, Dove created a very popular YouTube campaign. On their YouTube, various videos have been viewed millions of times, such as “Dove Real Beauty Sketches, You’re more beautiful than you think” which has so far racked up 65,567,189 views in the United States. These videos are shared daily on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, provoking thoughts and discussion amongst people. Even the comments on the YouTube videos have received positive feedback and still do to this day; a recent example of a positive comment is from Samantha Morrison on the Dove Beauty Stories: Four Generations video.

“Sometimes I forget Dove is really just soap, not an amazing, encouraging company that just makes 99% of all teenage girls and just women in general feel confident and beautiful, and teach us to step out of our "beauty comfort zone". I guess it's kind of both.” (Samantha Morrison, May 2015).

   The Dove campaign went on to further grow in 2005, when the second and what Dove calls the most “iconic” phase of the Campaign for Real Beauty came about. Again, public opinion came in to play as the adverts contained six women with “real bodies and real curves”, which lead thousands of people to take to the website to discuss beauty issues. It’s interesting to see how much Dove used public engagement, and I feel this was one of the key players in such a successful campaign. They targeted an area that is becoming talked about more and more, as airbrushed pictures grace our magazines and adverts. In asking for public opinion, it also meant they got feedback and could use that to improve their campaign further. Despite Dove being all about body care and soap, they have delved further into the minds of its consumers and made Dove all about body positivity and self love. It also went hand in hand with the news and media at the time. Over the years, the media has reported on “overly thin models” on runways and body issues. There have even been television shows presented by people such as Gok Wan teaching women of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies (How to Look Good Naked Channel 4, 2006). Dove has slotted in well to the “love the skin you’re in” bandwagon that many have jumped onto. It was in September 2006, (Dove, 2015), that a news and media furor erupted when Spain banned overly thin models from its fashion runways. From this, in 2006 and 2007, Dove created the Dove Self-Esteem fund. They created a short film called Evolution which like their other YouTube hits, was a success.

  The Dove-Self Esteem fund was very successful and still is. They have noticed a niche in the market for “real” beauty, something that is still debated and reported by mainstream media daily. The self-esteem fund was created as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and women about a wider definition of beauty. (Dove, 2007). A highlight of Dove’s marketing campaign would probably be the fact that in 2006, their advert “Little Girls” appeared during the Super Bowl break which reached an estimated 89 million viewers. This lead to 2007 and a brand new campaign. They decided to target aging women, after their successful campaign that involved body size. Another study was conducted, called “Beauty Comes of Age”, and it revealed that 91% of women aged 50-64 believed it was time for society to change its views about women and aging. It seemed Dove was widening their consumer base. Dove got internationally renowned photographer Annie Leibovtiz involved in the campaign, and they celebrated age spots, wrinkles and grey hair. This is different to other beauty campaigns that try their best to find solutions to these problems- and don’t tend to celebrate them. Examples of this are hair dye companies that encourage people to cover their grey hair, and products that get rid of wrinkles sold to young girls in their 20s. Dove has broken the convention there and gone for a different tactic that seems to be working for them.

 From then on, the Dove Real Beauty Campaign has grown yearly. Every year, their studies and involvement of different people have become bigger and better. Dove believe their efforts have been positive and a step in the right direction, but feel more does need to be done when it comes to the self-esteem of women and young girls everywhere. To continue to reach its consumers, Dove has created educational programs that have reached over 7 million girls so far, and they hope it reaches 15 million girls by 2015. They work with Girl Scouts of The USA, Girls Inc. and various other partners.

  According to Kotler (2009), good marketing is the art and science of choosing target markets, increasing customers through creating, managing, communicating and delivering superior customer value. The Dove Real Beauty campaign has been around for over a decade now, and I believe their ongoing campaign and loyal consumers are the reason for this. They have also confronted an issue that is close to the hearts of many women. Dove has used a marketing mix of physical evidence, promotion, and people as participants to produce a brand that is still popular to this day. When you think of Dove, you think of positive body image and a well known cosmetic brand that is trusted worldwide. Emarketing and social media networking has also been crucial in their success, and using YouTube as a way to communicate with their consumers has worked remarkably well- especially as YouTube’s popularity has grown quickly since 2004. According to YouTube’s traffic statistics, in 2011 YouTube had more than 1 trillion views. That’s equivalent to almost 140 views for every person on Earth. (Network World, 2012). Dove is known worldwide, and they’ve made sure their videos have gone viral by uploading the video in 25 languages. PR helped in this case, as the video was advertised by top media companies, women and men alike. Another way Dove has connected well with its consumers is the use of “real” women in all its campaigns. They’ve used women of all sizes, ethnicity and ability to promote their products. The women in their posters are always seen as happy in their own bodies, and in turn the consumers are buying into that happiness. It’s interesting to note that although they sell beauty products, their adverts usually do not have images of said products in them. They use women mainly to promote their product, which again buys into the lifestyle they are promoting rather than the product. They also question the norm which leads to women to question their own view of themselves, making it a talking subject that is relatable. 

 Throughout their campaign, the continuing debate and engagement on has kept it alive. I believe Dove will continue to be a popular brand for years to come, while there seems to be an uprising lead by media into loving the skin you’re in. Although there will always be the other side of the beauty industry that promotes thin, non-aging lifestyles, there will always be a place for Dove and it’s real beauty campaign alongside that. Whether they really care or have just found their niche, that’s debatable- many social scientists agree that the idea of pure altruism does not exist (Adam Fetterman, 2014). Critics do question the motives of Dove, which is understandable. Their media campaign works however and the company keeps on growing and creates profit- which is the real reason any company embarks on a media campaign. 

Jessica Martin

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